Friday, January 07, 2011

A Different Perspective On Bill Daley's Appointment

Analyzing the appointment of Bill Daley as President Obama's Chief of Staff on Chris Matthews's Hardball, Chuck Todd said Daley would be the "outside guy" and some forgettable name the "inside guy" in these next couple of years leading up to the reelection campaign of 2012. Yes and no. Mostly no.

Yes, Bill Daley may well be the contact guy to the mayors and governors outside D.C. (Chuck's premise), because those local contacts are key to mounting a successful campaign for reelection. No doubt, Daley will serve as a CEO executive type (Chris's premise by way of those corporate worshippers at POLITICO) with clear lines of communication and chain of command in the White House, and he will bring Chicago's can-do reputation into the White House (Howard Fineman's thesis) to ensure the President's reelection. That this is an eminently political appointment (small 'p') looking toward 2012, obviously goes without saying.

They're all right, but there is one overlooked caveat that links all of this together. It seems the pundits forget that this Republican Congress is out for the President's hide. Very little of substance in the legislative arena will be accomplished as Democrats (HOPEFULLY) play vigorous defense against Republican moves to repeal (SYMBOLIC, a waste of taxpayer's time and money) healthcare, financial reform, student loan reform, EPA and food safety regulations; but most significantly, to DEFUND all of these, effectively GUTTING THEM, unless and until the Democrats win back the House in 2012.

The next two years promise to be a HELLISH partisan fight. There are clear and present dangers in this new Congress to the President's reelection, namely Darrell Issa and Mitch McConnell. Darrell Issa is on a witch hunt. That much is already clear. And he may well draw blood with some of his probes into the executive branch. Mitch McConnell has openly pledged to make Obama a one-term president. He means it. There are a bunch of others, held in reserve, who are ready to jump into the breach in a typically coordinated and vicious Republican assault on the White House.

The President may have been naive with his early expectations of Republican cooperation, but he's not stupid and he's learned some tough lessons. All his talk of "compromise" and "cooperation" are for public (primarily, "independent") consumption. When Obama asked Rham Emanuel to be his Chief of Staff, his main sales pitch to a wavering Rhambo was a personal appeal that he needed Rham to have his "back." That's telling. The President is like the quarterback reading his opponents' blitz. He needs a really strong offensive line to avoid being sacked, and possibly give him enough time in the pocket to make some plays. Bill Daley is President Obama's offensive line. And he's as good as they come. That's why he was enthusiastically endorsed by two good progressives, Howard Dean and Robert Reich.

Daley's role in the 2000 Florida recount, when he was Al Gore's campaign manager and directed the Gore challenge and recount effort, has only been mentioned in passing by the pundits, primarily because the final outcome went against Gore; therefore it was seen as a Daley defeat. But what the pundits fail to realize is that in the local Florida recount game, Daley's team was actually winning, with some significant favorable rulings from the Florida Supreme Court. The Bush appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was their last resort, and that was one thing Bill Daley could not control.

At a minimum, it must be stated that Bill Daley kept Al Gore in contention during the 2000 recount and held his own against the Bush forces. This is precisely the role he will undertake in the next couple of years. Bill Daley is a tough Chicago pol. With the threat of Issa and this Republican Congress looming, he will hardly be concentrating his energies on the "outside" while a klatch of no-names gets rolled by an avalanche of Republican subpoenas.

Bill Daley is President Obama's consiglieri. His mission is to ensure the President's reelection, yes. But to do this, he must stop Issa and the Republican Congress and Senate dead in their tracks. Their cards are on the table: They have vowed to destroy or bloody this President politically.

In this fight, however, I wouldn't bet against Bill Daley.

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